Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)-Authorities in Bangladesh have assured the Christian community that heavy security will be provided for Christmas celebrations following alleged death threats by Muslim extremists.
The Bangladesh Christian Association representatives met with top Home Ministry officials on Dec 22 to discuss security measures for the Christian community over Christmas, reports the UCA News.
Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan also assured Christians would be protected.
“We’ve decided to increase visible security and surveillance so that the Christian community can celebrate Christmas in a festive mood,” the minister told the United News of Bangladesh agency.
All churches across the country will have CCTV coverage and metal detectors installed, he said.
Christian leaders including a Catholic bishop and several priests said they received death threats earlier on December 22 via mobile text messages.
Association secretary, Nirmol Rozario, who led the delegation to the Home Ministry said he received a death threat.
“We will take care of you during Christmas. Shall I arrange for your burial or leave it for your family,” read the message sent to Rozario.
“The government has assured us of full-proof security for a peaceful celebration of Christmas and hopefully there will be no untoward incident during the festival,” Rozario said.
“However, a sense of fear has gripped us.”
Father Ujjol Linus Rozario, pastor of Sacred Heart of Jesus Church in northern Dinajpur district, also received a death threat from the banned Islamic militant group Jamaatul Mujahedin Bangladesh (JMB).
“I’m a bit frightened about the threat, but I’m still preparing for Christmas as usual. Police are guarding the church and are constantly in touch with us to ensure our safety,” said Father Rozario.
Attacks on Christians are rare in Muslim-majority Bangladesh.
However, this year several attacks and threats have targeted Christians.
On October 5, Luke Sarkar, a Protestant minister at the Faith Bible Church in northwestern Pabna district narrowly escaped death after three alleged members of the JMB, attacked him and tried to slit his throat.
On November 18, three gunmen shot and seriously wounded Italian Catholic Father Parolari Piero, 64, a member of the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions, in Dinajpur.
The group calling itself the Islamic State claimed responsibility for the shooting.
More than two-dozen Catholic priests, Protestant ministers and aid workers say they have received death threats over the last few weeks.